19.11.2016 Views

SEVEN&HALF

Create successful ePaper yourself

Turn your PDF publications into a flip-book with our unique Google optimized e-Paper software.

PROF.M.M.NINAN

NOV., 2016


PROF. M. M. NINAN

CONTENTS

ARRIVAL OF APOSTLE THOMAS 1

KODUNGALLOOR CHURCH 26

PALAYUR CHURCH 30

GOKKAMANGALAM CHURCH 42

KOTTAKKAVU CHURCH 47

NIRANAM CHURCH 56

KOLLAM CHURCH 68

NILAKKAL CHURCH 75

THIRUVITHAMKODE ARA CHURCH 80

MYLAPORE CHURCH 85


PROF. M. M. NINAN

FOREWORD

This is a collection of information and photographs taken from various internet sites which gathers

together details of the various churches along the evangelical route of Apostle Thomas in Kerala

since his landing in Crangallur (Kodungallur) port.

The Seven and a half Churches which he established and their history along with his final resting

place in Mylapore are represented.

Hope this will be of help to those who are interested in the History of Nasranis in Kerala.

My Lord, and

My God

What we have received from Our Fathers,

This we hand it over to you also:

That God so loved the world …that He gave himself to you.

You may call God now again as Father.

Go ye into all the world, proclaim this good news.

M.M.Ninan

Normal, IL

November, 2016


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

I

ARRIVAL OF APOSTLE THOMAS

From very early times, India carried on a flourishing trade with the Middle East and the Western

countries, particularly with Antioch, Alexandria and Rome by both land and sea. Pliny, in his

, written in the middle of the first century A.D., speaks of the sea route to India

and of the monsoon winds of July, and says that from Osselis in Arabia, the ship took forty days to

reach Mussirissi (Kodungalloor), the chief port and center of commerce on the Malabar coast.

1


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

History traces four ancient trade routes between India and the West:

1)) Kerala (Malabar) to the River Indus, the Persian Gulf, the Euphrates, thence by land to Antioch,

etc.;

2) the land route through the northern mountain passes to Balk, Oxus and the Caspian Sea;

3) the coast line land route to Persia, Arabia, then up the Red Sea to Alexandria, thence to Rome;

4) from Kerala by sea to the Island of Sokotra, thence along the African coast or up the

Red Sea. Charlesworth points out that "no less than 120 ships sailed annually from Egypt to India."

In one of those ships, the Apostle St. Thomas came to Kerala.

St.Thomas is one of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ and he landed on India on the shore of

Kodungallur on November 21, 52 A.D. He is believed to have landed on the Malabar Coast on one

of the Roman vessels. T

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DX-fenrA3cM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kI5cMqHdttI

2


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The history of the Thomas Christians known then as Nazranees (One who follow the Nazarene

Jesus) were handed down through generations by means of oral traditions which included comunal

songs and dances. The Malayalam popular songs of antiquity, known as "Thoma parvam" (Chapter

on Thomas also known as Ramban Pattu - Song of Rambaan) and "MargamKali Pattu," ( Song of

the Dance of the Way) describe vividly the advent of Thomas in Kerala, his apostolate here and his

martyrdom in Mylapore, on the third of July, 72.

"The Ramban Songs" are popular ballads which the St. Thomas Christians have sung from

generation to generation, narrating the work of Thomas in Kerala. These ballads are believed to

have been composed by Ramban Thomas Maliekal who received baptism and priesthood from

the Apostle.

Like all religions, traditions are maintained and transmitted through generations through community

songs and dance forms- oral tradition of bardic songs. This way it is remembered easily for longer

times since a large number of people in every generations are involved in reciting and dancing with

it. These lyrical ballads, were of course re-written in every generation to suite the need of the

changes in language and clarity and intelligibility through the centuries.

See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bHmv1A_tkKA

3


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

4


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The Songs of Thomas

Which is handed down through generations and written down in 1601

By tradition these songs were written by Thomas Rambaan the first Brahmin convert to

Christianity

The song tells that Prince Peter or Kepha of Muziris (actually means Egyptians. This word is even today is

used to denote foreigners from Middle East) who was one of the Apostle's first converts visited St. Thomas

in the Pandya Kingdom (Andhra Pradesh) and requested him to return to Malabar. Apostle came back to

Coromandal coast. The request was granted and the Apostle accompanied Prince Kepha to Kerala, where

headed by the other members of the Cranganore royal family three thousand non-Christians received the

faith and were baptized in the course of eighteen months. Among these converts there were forty members

of the Jewish community including Rabbi Paul of the Cranganore Synagogue where every Saturday the

Apostle used to go and read and explain the Old Testament for the Jewish congregation. Though Rabbi Paul

received baptism and became a Christian, a good number of the Cranganore Jewish community continued

to stick fast to their ancestral religion and gave the Christians the name "Nazaranis ", meaning followers of

the man from Nazareth i.e.; Jesus Christ.

Kidangallor Evangelization

Besides Jews, Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Nairs, and Chettiars were among the earliest converts to

Christianity. The first Brahmin convert was a young member of a Niranom Brahmin family that had

settled down in Cranganore engaged in some business. The young man's conversion was not liked

by his father, who decided to cast him away from the family. The Apostle called the young convert

and asked him to live with him. The young man, who had received the Apostle's name in baptism

agreed to live with him and came to be known as Thomas Maliyakal, in recognition of his Brahmin

family name. Subsequently he was raised to priest hood, and after sometime was given the title of

Ramban or Arch-priest. In course of time a Jewish Synagogue as well as a Hindu temple at

Cranganore were transformed into Christian churches. Accompanied by Prince Kepha, who was

consecrated as the Bishop of Cranganore and Malabar, St. Thomas left Cranganore to preach the

Gospel elsewhere.

5


Kollam Evangelization

SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Quilon was the next scene of the labors of the Apostle. The majority of the people of Quilon

belonged to the Chettiar caste, the recognized trading caste of the time. A good many of them

accepted the Gospel attracted by the preaching of the Apostle and the miracles performed by him.

Many inhabitants of Quilon hated the new religion and migrated from Quilon to Nanjinad to keep

themselves away from the influence of the new religion; After erecting a cross for the worship of the

converts who numbered about one thousand and four hundred, the Apostle left Quilon.

Nironam Evangelization

The Apostle and Prince Kepha proceeded from Quilon in a northeasterly direction and arrived at

Thrikapaleswaram, near Niranom. Thrikapaleswaram had Hindu temples at that time, and to

provide a place of public worship to the Christian community, the Apostle planted a cross a few

furlongs away to the west of one of the temples. The non-Christian people in the locality did not like

this and they pulled it out and cast it into the nearby river.

This desecration took place sometime after the Apostle had left the place for Chayal or Nileckal.

Two Christians from Thrikapaleswaram went there and requested the Apostle to re-visit their place

and set matters right. The cross that had been thrown out into the river moved downwards floating

on the waters for some distance, and eventually rested on a strip of land on the opposite bank of

the river. Here at Niranom a new site for a church was secured. During this second visit, the

Apostle stayed at Niranom for two months and during this period two hundred persons were

baptized by him giving new vigor and strength to the Christian community. Local tradition is that

most of the Nambutiris having been made Christians by St. Thomas, left the place after giving the

boxes containing the documents relating to their landed properties to a Kymal or Nair chieftain, who

has since been known as Niranam Petti Kaymal. Of the various miracles performed by St. Thomas

at Niranam, the most remarkable was the restoration of life to a child of a barber put to death by

anti-Christian families, who wanted to throw the responsibility for the crime on the Apostle.

Nileckal Evangelization

The Apostle returned from Niranom to Chayal or Nileckal. According to the Ramban song the

Apostle worked here for one year and during this period one thousand and one hundred persons

were converted to Christianity.

6


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Kokkamangalam Evangelization

Kokkamangalam, far to the north of Quilon, Niranom and Nileckal, was the next centre of the

missionary activities of St. Thomas. The Ramban song says that the Apostle spent one year at

Kokka-mangalam and baptized one thousand and six hundred persons to Christianity. After

planting a cross and opening a church there the Apostle left the place. During the absence of the

Apostle unknown hands removed the cross from its site and threw it into the nearby backwater

lagoon. The cross moved with the water current and reached Pallipuram. The believers at

Pallipuram installed the cross solemnly at a suitable place and a church was opened there.

Kottakuvu Evangelization

Kottakuvu near Parur was the next centre where the Apostle preached the Gospel and founded a

church. According to the Ramban song the Apostle succeeded in receiving into the Christian fold

one thousand seven hundred and seventy persons at this center.

Palayur Evangelization

From Kottakavu the Apostle proceeded to Palayur, one of the strongest Brahmin centers in Kerala.

A prosperous Brahmin community was living there from ancient times. The place where the Jewish

community had their residence at Palayur is still called Jewish hill. Orthodox Brahmins of those

days used to perform every dayy five Yajnas. Punja-yajnas, and one of these was the "pilhrte

yajna" and it consisted of offering libations of water to the spirits of their deceased ancestors. While

some of the Brahmins were engaged in performing their Pithru-yajna by throwing up hand-fuls of

water, in. a tank near one of the Palayur temples the Apostle saw this and enquired about the

significance of this action. Since the explanation given did not satisfy him, the Apostle said: "lf your

performance is acceptable to the gods, they can manage that the drops of' water remain

suspended in the air, instead of falling down." The Brahmins retorted that such a tiling was

impossible being against the laws of nature. The Apostle then assured them that God. the One,

True, Almighty God, would have the handfuls of water suspended in the air, and also allow a cavity

to be seen on the surface of the water indicating the spot from where the water had been taken, if

only they believed in the true God and accepted the new faith, preached by him. The Brahmins

present there expressed their readiness to accept the new faith on the condition stated by the

Apostle.

7


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Then the Apostle prayerfully cast a handful of water high up in the air from the tank. The water

stood still in the air after reaching a certain height. Subsequently, at the bidding of the Apostle it fell

down at his feel in the shape of flowers. The majority of the Brahmins present there now became

followers of the Apostle. He taught them the new faith and baptized them. Those who refused to

accept the new faith left the village having cursed it, and since then it has come to be called

Chowghat. The cursed forest, where a Brahmin can neither take food or drink.

Quoted from "A History of Christianity in Kerala" by Dr. C.V.Cherian

8


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

9


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

10


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

11


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

12


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

13


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

You can download the Ramban paattu from this site :

http://www.nasranifoundation.org/downloads.html

14


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Margam kali

15


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Margam Kali Dance of Syrian Christians

Margamkali is a group dance of Kerala practiced by Jewish Christians who trace their origins to the

evangelistic activity of Thomas the Apostle among Jews and natives in the 1st century.

Actually it is derived basically from the group dance of Edessa (Vattakkali), which performed by the

Syrian Christians, and the influence of south indian martial arts. “Margam” means path or way or

solution in Malayalam, but in the religious context it is known as the path to attain salvation. The

process of conversion to Christianity was known as “Margam Koodal” (Joining the Way) until

recently in Kerala.

16


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Much of this folk art is woven around the mission of St. Thomas, the Apostle. The original Margam

Kali describes the arrival of St. Thomas in Malabar, the miracles he performed, the friendship as

well as the hostility of the people among whom he worked, the persecution he suffered, the

churches and crosses he put up in various places, etc. These details are incorporated in the

various stanzas of the Margam Kali songs. Kerala’s Margam Kali is an important element in the

age-old and hallowed tradition of St Thomas among the Syrian Christians of Malabar Coast.

The disparity between the present condition of this form and the early days leads one to assume

three important phases in the history of Margamkali.

The first phase was the pre-colonization one in which this semi-theatrical form was performed by

the Saint Thomas Christians during special occasions. That time Parichamuttu Kali (The sword and

shield dance) was a part of it.

Later Synod of Diamper curbed and suppressed this native form.

During the last seventeenth century, due to the efforts of a Southist priest Itti Thomman Kathanar,

the textual part of this form got certain upliftment and care. The Margamkali might have been edited

and refashioned into the present fourteen stanza structure during this time.

However, till the fag end of the nineteenth century the art form was not very much in practice even

though it did exist here and there. But at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of twenteenth

century, the form became popular once again and some structural changes took place then.

Masters such as Kalarikal Unni ashan, Indumoottil Kocheppu ashan, Indumoottil Kutto ashan were

some of them who were responsible for this change and upheaval. By this time puttan Purikkal

Uthuppu Lukose compiled and published Margamkali Pattukal in 1910. Then again it had a

set-back and during the 1950s to 1970s it was on the verge of becoming extinct. But in the late

1970s once again the Saint Thomas Christians took the initiative to revive and popularise this form.

The song is a description of the work of St. Thomas in India. Here is how Mundadan briefly

summarizes the summary of the song.

Thomas the Apostle coming from Arabia landed in Maliankara in the year A.D.52 in the month of

Dhanu (December/January). After a short stay there he proceeded to Mailapuram (Mylapore) and

from there went on to China.

17


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Coming back to Mailapuram port he sailed to Maliankara. being invited by the king of

Tiruvanchikulam (modem Cranganore area). He founded seven churches there: in Cranganore

(where he arrived in A.D. 52 and baptized the king. 3000 pagans and 40 Jews). in Kollam. Chayal.

Niranam (to which place the cross was transferred from the infidel village of Truckpaleshwaram).

Kokamangalam. Kottakkayal (Parur) and Palayur.

In A.D. 59 in the month of Kanni (September/October) he was called back to Mailapuram by King

Choran who imprisoned the Apostle because he had given away to the poor the money the king

had entrusted to him for building a palace for him. But the king‘s brother died at that time and was

brought back to life and he revealed to Choran the beauty of the heavenly palace. Thomas

thereupon was set free and the king along with 700 nonbelievers received baptism.

Alter a stay of two and a half years in Mailapuram the Apostle retumed to Malabar via Malayattur

and visited the old places: Cranganore. Kottakayal. Kokamangalm, Kollam. Niranam. and Chayal.

staying in each place for a year and conferring on the faithful the sacrament of confirmation. In

Chayal the Apostle took leave of the Christians telling them that they would not see him again.

Then, in the year A.D. 69 he departed from there to the land of the Tamils.

At this point of the story. the poem enumerated the miracles performed by the Apostle,

He brought back to life 19 dead. drove the devil out of 260 persons. Cured 230 lepers. gave sight to

250 blind persons. gave to 220 paralytics the use of their limbs. speech to 20 dumb and restored to

health 250 persons given up as hopeless by physicians.

ln all he converted l7,550 persons of whom 6,850 were Brahmins. 2,800 kshatryas. 3,750 vaisyas

and 4,250 sudras. and thus he won over for the true way of life and salvation. caste Hindus. During

his visit to Malabar the Apostle had made sure of the proper functioning of the Church after him by

ordaining priests and consecrating bishops. Kepa belonged to the Cranganore royal family and he

was set over Kerala. He took part in the burial of the Apostle.

Back in Mailapuram in the year A.D.72 on the 3 rd day of the month of Karkadakam (July). the

Apostle met on his way to the Little Mount some chinnabranmar Brahmins going for a sacrifice to

the temple of Kali. They wanted him to take part in their worship; however. with the sign of the cross

he destroyed the temple and the Brahmins in their fury pierced him with a lance. With a prayer on

his lips the Apostle gave up his spirit on a rock in the forest near the shore of the seas and his soul

flew up to heaven in the form of a white dove accompanied by angels. and in a vision he promised

18


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

his help to all those who prayed at his tomb.”

Parichamuttukali,

(Shield hitting dance)

Parichamuttukali, a martial dance art form is performed by men bearing swords and shields.

Apparently some Thomas Christians specialised in Kalaripayattu (martial art) and served the kings

in various states as warriors. These parichamuttu kali follows the movements and steps of

Kalarippayattu.

The dancers are usually dressed in a white loin cloth with red wrist bands and sing in chorus as

they dance. The performers dance with sword and shield on their hands. The group is usually

headed by a leader called Asan around whom the rest of the dancers perform. The dance used to

be performed as a religious offering.

19


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

20


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Veeradiyan pattu

Paanan (Vaanan) Pattu

Veeradiyan pattu was sung by a particular caste among the Hindus known as Paananmar

(Vaanan) . Paanan actually means singers. Vaanan means forest dwellers. They were hill tribals

and were considered high class during the Sangam Period in South India. Most of the early

literature were composed by them. These hereditary Paanan-paattukar, or minstrels, used to go

from house to house in the village at festival time, singing traditional songs and being paid in grain.

The rest of the year, they worked at some trade. The instrument known as Udukku is used as an

accompaniment. In group performances a Villu (bow with the tight string with several bells which

is struck with a stick) was used as in the picture above. The Saivites still use the art form to tell

stories.

21


oru bhandavum thalyil chuvanna thalappavum ketti

tholil

sleehayude pattu padan ethunna veeradiyane kanumbol ellavarkum santhosham aanu.

Thoma

SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

In a childhood memories (Balyakalasmaranakal) James Joseph (Kavalam) in a blog says like this

kazhiyunna samayam...…

Koythu

It is after the harvest.

Ellaa christian veedukalilum veeradiyan ethukayai....…

Kavalathe

In every Christian home in Kavalam the Veeradyan reaches.

In their shoulders there is a band and in their head a red covering tied around; he comes to sing the songs of

the Apostle Thomas. When they see them they are happy.

veeradiyan thinnayil ethy tharayil erunnu viseshngal chodikkum...…

The Veeradiyans comes into the port of the home and sits down and asks of their news.

kutttikal veeradiyanu chuttum irikkum...…

Njangal

We the children will sit arond the Veeradiyans.

pattu enthu rasam aanenno…

veeradiyante

The songs of Veeradiyans are beautiful.

avasanam Bhum,,Bhum,, Karthave enna vili kelkkathavar churukkam aanul,,,,,,

pattinte

At the end of the songs there is a sound of Bhum, Bhum and a loud call O Lord.

There are only a few who did not hear them.

veedukalil ninnum kittunna neellum panavum aanu veeradiyante geevitha margam.

ella

They live with the provisions and money each household gives.

............…

kazhiyumbol ippozhum etharundo,,,,,aavo

Koythu

Do they still come in the harvest seasons?

Udukku is a handheld drum

22


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Villadichan Paattu

Songs accompanied by Bow

Villu Paattu (The Bow Songs)

23


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Villu Paatu ( 'Bow Songs’)- Villadichan pattu (Striking the bow songs)- is an ancient form of

musical story-telling where narration is interspersed with music, It is an art form of South Kerala.

This art form is popular among Nadar and Chettiyar caste of erstwhile Travancore Kingdom. The

main storyteller narrates the story striking the bow. The bow rests on a mud pot kept facing

downwards. A co-performer beats the pot while singing. There is usually another co-singer who

acts as active listener to the narration, uttering appropriate oral responses.

There are also Udukku, Kudam (mud pot), Thala, Kattai , which are used as supplementary

instruments in performances. Occasionally, the Villu Pattu team divides itself into two groups,

each trying to prove opposite points-of-view of a subject.

Ezharappallikal

Ezharappallikal or Seven and half Churches are the seven Churches or Christian communities

across western coast of India founded by Thomas the Apostle in the first century. According to

Indian Christian traditions, the Apostle Thomas arrived in Kodungallur (presently in the Indian

state of Kerala) in AD 52, established the Eight Churches and evangelised in present-day Kerala

and Tamil Nadu. Many of these churches built near Jewish settlements.

24


These were at

SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Maliankara (Kodungallur, Cranganore),

Kollam (Quilon),

Niranam(Trippaleswaram),

Nilackal (Chayal),

Gokamangalam(Kokamangalam, Kothamangalam )

Kottakkayal(Paravoor or Kottakkavu),

Palayur, (Palayoor,Chattukulangara)

Thiruvithamkode (Kanyakumari); the half church.

Of which Church at Maliankara is considered as first church. Church at Kanyakumari is a small

church and hence called Arappally (means Half Church). It is actually the Administrative Church

where the Head of the Church is.

Apostle Thomas laboured 20 years from 52 to 72 AD in South India and converted many persons

from different castes, amongst whom there were 32 illums of Brahmins or Namboodiris.

According to the Traditional ballads: Thomas








brought back to life I9 who were dead,

drove the devil out of 260 persons,

Cured 230 lepers,

gave sight to 250 blind persons,

gave to 220 paralyties the use of their limbs,

gave speech to 20 dumb and

restored to health 250 persons given up as hopeless by physicians.

These miracles having become conifrmation of the gospel he preached and he was able to convert

many to his new way.

An approximate calculation of the population of the entire Kerala in that time based on average

growth rate and present population yield about 30,000 people.

25


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

ln all he converted l7,550 persons. This is 17.550/ 30,00=

population from all the classes from Brahmins to the Sudras.

It includes

6,850 were Brahmins.

2,800 kshatryas.

3,750 vaisyas and

4,250 sudras.

0.585 which is nearly 60 % of the

An explanation about the term Brahmins may be necessary. It was used both in terms of the

caste status as well as a term of the religion. Buddhists, Jains, Vedics and Brahminic religions

were probably in existence at that time. Brahminism as developed under the Dravidic Forest

Ascetics (known as Upanishads) proposed the Monotheistic Brahman teaching which was identical

with that of the Abrahamic teachings. Brahman actually means God of Abram.

26


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

There were syncretism of all different religions, including other tribal faiths, magic and witchcraft as

well. It is the Brahmins of Dravidian Abrahamic people who were attracted to the new way. As

the Vedic religion died out by that time, the Aryans took up Brahminic faith. But the Aryans

(Indo-European or Japhethic race ) were rare and an extreme minority. Thus we should assume

that Dravidian Brahmins were monotheists like the Jews which eventually were syncretized with

magic, witchcraft, tantrism, tribal religions and animism

We can see that Thomas concentrated on the Brahmins simply because they were the only

educated people in the community who were teachers. The way could be established only

through teaching the disciplines in the fundamentals of the way and its doctrines and rituals.

Some principal families of Brahmins that were baptized by St. Thomas, were those of

Kalli, Kallarakal, Kalliankal, Manki, Madathalan(Madathilan), Plavunkal (Pattmukkan), Mattamuk,

Manavasri, Pakalomattom, Sankarapuri, and Thayil(Thayyilan).

Thomas is further said to have ordained presbyters for the churches from four Brahmin families

called Sankarapuri, Pakalomattam, Kalli and Kaliankal (see Firth, 2001: 3). Of these, two families

were ordained and set apart by him for sacred orders as Priests and Teachers. The higher order of

Priesthood remained almost hereditary in the two families of Sankarapuri and Pakalomattam for

several centuries…." ( C.M.Agur, 'Church history of Travancore; II / 9-10 ).

27


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

28


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

29


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

II

KODUNGALLOOR CHURCH

The Marthoma Pontifical shrine (Kodungaloor Mar Thoma Church) is considered as first church

built by St. Thomas. The church is situated on the banks of the River Periyar is located about 6 km

from Kodungallur, in the village of Azhikode in Kerala.

Kodungallur (anglicised name: Cranganore), is a municipality in the South Western border of

Thrissur district of Kerala, India. Kodungallur is 29 kilometres (18 mi) northwest of Kochi and 38

kilometres (24 mi) southwest of Thrissur,

St. Thomas Church, Kodungalloor

30


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The church is built on the model of St. Peter's Basilica, Rome and the church is situated on the

banks of river Periyar. It is under the Roman Catholic Church.Portuguese fortified Cranganore and

made it the seat of the first Roman Catholic Arch-bishopric in India sometime after the 1500s..The

underground remains of the primordial church still remains.

On the occasion of the 19th centenary celebration of the coming of St. Thomas to India, Late

Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, the then Prefect of Oriental Congregation solemnly brought the bone of

the right arm of the apostle from Ortona in Italy and enthroned it in the present Shrine on December

6th, 1953.

The Marthoma Pontifical Shrine carrying the holy relic of St.Thomas was entrusted by the Holy See

to the C.M.I. fathers of Devmatha Province, Thrissur. The relic is enclosed in a glass case and

exposed daily from 9am -6pm for veneration of the faithful with befitting briefing. The main feast of

the church is celebrated on November 21 in Commemoration of the apostles 'Entrance to India' and

it lasts for a week.

31


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

"When Thomas came to the great Brahmin centre of Palayur, a leading Brahmin Gramam (village)

among the 64, he came across some Brahmins doing the Pithru Yajna or Pooja to the manes or

ghosts of deceased ancestors. They were throwing water into the air (Tharpan) while reciting

manthras. The Apostle learned from them the meaning of this ritual and remarked: "If your

performance is acceptable to the gods they could keep the water suspended in the air without

allowing it to fall again and again".

"The Brahmins said that this was unthinkable as it was opposed to the laws of nature. Then

Thomas asserted that the One true God he worshipped could do it, and he proceeded to perform a

miracle on condition that the Brahmins accept his faith if he is successful. The Apostle, invoking the

Holy Spirit, made the sign of the Cross and threw a handful of water up into the sky. After reaching

a particular height the water stood still in the air, the particles glittering like diamonds. Looking down

the Brahmins could see the cavity made by the removal of the water still there in the pond. Most of

the witnesses were baptised on the spot.”

This is a legend , shared by Hindus and Christians alike, of the locality, and to this day , no

orthodox Brahmin takes a bath or a meal in the village. ( Quoted in the Trichur District Gazetteer

( History ), Chapt. II / p.100 , from the book ' Syrian Christians of Malabar, by K.E.Job. ).

32


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The Pond is today known as Thaliyakulam and is used as a baptismal pond

This pond and statues at the Palayur church represent St. Thomas baptizing the Brahmins

As per the local tradition, the place Chavakkadu, (Saapakkad--place of curse), near

Palayur(Thrissur), has got that name, as the place was cursed by Nambudiris, because some of

their families were converted to Christianity by St. Thomas. The rest of the Nambudiri Brahmins, as

tradition says, fled from the village saying," From the next day on-wards , our ablutions shall be at

Vembanad".

Kerala Video: St Thomas Church, Azhikode, Kodungallur,

https://www.tripadvisor.com.ph/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g297631-i18709274-Kerala.html

33


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

III

PALAYU

AYUR CHURCH

(CHATTUKULANGARA , CHAVAKADU)

Boat in which Thomas came to Palayur

St. Thomas traveled from Muziris (Kottakkavu or Kodungallur) and landed at Palayur by boat

through the backwaters. At that time, Palayur was a stronghold of the Brahmins and also of Jews.

He came to visit the Jewish merchants at Palayur at “Judankunnu” (meaning the hill of Jews) and to

preach the Christian gospel. The place has since become a dry land but its historicity as a boat jetty

called locally as ‘Bottukulam’ has been preserved as a monument to St. Thomas (see picture).

34


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Marthoma church is believed to be one among the 10 churches built by St.Thomas in Kerala.

The church was a temple before St. Thomas Converted the Brahmins. The oil lamp used in the

temple is still there. Tippu sultan burned down this church. But later it is reconstructed with the

Persian cross established by St. Thomas and the oil lamps of the temple.

35


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

36


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

37


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Historical Monuments at Palayur










The Ancient haven and monument at Bottukulam (Bottujetty) where the a Apostle landed on his

arrival from Kodungallur.

The Thaliakulam (Tank) where he baptised many after performing the miracle with water and

granite baptismal font on its bank.

Way of the cross around Thaliakulam

The place where he erected the cross

The underground remains of the primordial church

The old Judan Bazar and Jew Hill monument

The Poojakinar or ritual well used in the first centuries.

The martyr monument modelled on the small mount or Chinnamalai of Madras Mylapore

St. Alphonsa Memorial

38


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The Marthoma Patha (Walk-way) with 14 stations in rock scenes from the saint’s life.

St. Thomas sculpture which is the highest in the world (45 ft)

Indian Christian historical and cultural Museum

The jubilee door

The Adoration Centre at St. Thomas Convent, Palayur

39


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

40


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Palayur Syro-Malabar Church

41


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

42


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

43


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Inside Palayur church

The Persian Cross planted by St. Thomas and the Oil lamps used in the Temple

44


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The cave representing St. Thomas martyrdom at Mylapore, Madras

45


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Of the seven churches originally established by St. Thomas, only three namely, Palayoor in the

Syro-Malabar Catholic Archdiocese of Thrissur, Kottakkavu in the Syro-Malabar Catholic Major

Archeparchy of Ernakulam-Angamaly, and Niranam in the Malankara Orthodox Diocese of

Niranam could claim continuity, while the remaining four churches have undergone several

changes in their locations.

It is stated that a Hindu temple that was abandoned by the Brahmins was converted into the

present church. Further, as a proof of Jewish settlements existing when St Thomas arrived here in

52 AD, ruins of a synagogue could be seen near almost all Hindu temples, close to the church.

Temple remnants in the form of broken idols, sculptures and relics of the old temple can also be

seen near the precincts of the church, in addition to two large tanks near the west and east gates of

the church.

It is also stated that the conversion of Brahmins has resulted in such an aversion among the

Nambudri Brahmins that they do not even accept cold water or tender coconut water anywhere in

the vicinity of the Church. .

46


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

IV

GOKKAMANGALAM CHURCH

(KOKAMANGALAM, KOTHAMANGALAM )

KokKkothamangalam (Kothamangalam) is a village in Alappuzha district of Kerala state, south

India. It is situated in between Cochin and Kumarakom and on the western shore of Vembanad

Lake, 5 km east of the town of Cherthala, which has the nearest railway station.

Kothamangalam Marth Mariam Valiyapally old photo.jpg

Kottakkavu Church is church established by St. Thomas. The second church of Kottakkavu was

rebuilt at 9th century. The third church, was built in 1308. Pope Gregory XIII raised the altar of this

church to the status of privileged altar in 1575.

47


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

St. Thomas Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Kokkamangalam

48


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Kurishumudi church

49


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

St.Thomas Cross

The cross reputedly erected by the Apostle Thomas in Kokkamangalam (the original one is at

Pallippuram; the replica in stone was erected in 2002).

This splendid granite carving of the Cross is erected at the Vembanadu lake shore in honour of St

Thomas arrival in 52 AD and in remembrance of his first foot prints on the land of Kokkamangalam

The pilgrims make seven circles around the Cross either by walking or kneeling.

The seven storied Kerala lamp burning in front of the Relic denotes the integration of seven

Christian Communities founded by the Apostle. Pouring coconut oil in this lamp is a sacred practice

here. The archives of Kokkamangalam are also an attraction with historians, pilgrims and tourists.

A church was erected near the village temple. The present church was rebuilt in 1900 on the same

site.

St. Thomas sailed to Kokkamangalam where he preached the gospel for about a year. 1600 people

converted to Christianity through him according to the narration in "Rampan Pattu", an ancient form

of Christian folk-song prevalent in Kerala. He formed a Christian community at Kokkamangalam

and enshrined a Cross for the faithful. This cross was later cut off by saboteurs, and thrown into the

Lake Vembanad, through which it floated up to Pallippuram, where it is enshrined.

50


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The Relic of Apostle St. Thomas enshrined here was brought from Ortona in Italy by Pope John

Paul II in November 1999. Special Novena prayers are held on Friday evenings to venerate the

Relic.

A portrait of St. Thomas is venerated here and was brought from the Carmelite Monastery

Mannanam in 1897 by "Albhutha Mathai", pursuant to a revelation. This portrait is mounted in a

decorated waft of great artistic value.

51


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

V

KOTTAKKAVU CHURCH

Kottakkavu Old Church

Kottakkavu Church was established by St. Thomas.

Kottakkavu Mar Thoma Syro-Malabar Pilgrim Church (old) founded by St. Thomas the Apostle and

rebuilt in 9th century by Mar Sabor and Mar Proth. This is the third church.

52


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Kottakkavu Mar Thoma Syro-Malabar Pilgrim Church, North Paravur

53


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The second church of Kottakkavu was rebuilt at 9th century. The third church, was built in 1308.

Pope Gregory XIII raised the altar of this church to the status of privileged altar in 1575. A wooden

cross which the saint had planted was kept in the church till the 18th century. But during the siege

of Tipu Sultan, various churches were demolished, and this cross too was destroyed. The church

ransacked at that time was the third one . The church of 1308 was rebuilt and blessed on 15th

August 2002.

54


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

This is the chapel of the church behind the main church. Next to the chapel is the Theerthakulam

(pilgrimage pool) where the scene of St. Thomas baptizing Hindu families on his arrival in Kerala

can be seen.

55


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Kottakkavu Pond where St. Thomas baptized Jews

The inscription in front of the church says:

“Third church built in 1308; Demolished in 1964”

It was renovated in AD 2002”.

The Foundation Stone

56


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Remains of the Old Wall built in AD 1308

These walls are called Aana Mathil (Elephant Walls) because of the size and nature of the

construction to protect the area from the wild elephants.

http://www.malankaraworld.com/Newsletter/MWJ_293.htm

The Persian cross in the church was built in AD 880 (perhaps when the original church was rebuilt.)

The third major renovation was done in AD 1308 and the current church was re-built in AD

1938.Kottakkavu Sliva is a Persian cross founded by Mar Sabor and Mar Proth.

57


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Statue of Saint Thomas inside the Kottakavu church

Kottakkavu Sliba, a Persian cross founded by Mar Sabor and Mar Proth, is preserved at Kottakkavu

Mar Thoma Syro-Malabar Pilgrim Center. It is believed that this Persian Cross, which is preserved

in the chapel in front of the church, might have been engraved in rock in 880 AD.

http://malankaraworld.com/library/History/History_thondacchan.htm

http://www.ccel.org/node/5374

History of Church

THONDACCHAN AND THE FOUR SILVER COINS

by Justin

The worship of Thondachan, a Hindu family deity, by a particular lineage of Nairs (native martial clan) of Malabar,

Kerala, and especially the manner and ritual of this worship is noteworthy. Though a family deity, Thondachan is never

worshipped within the Nair household. Nor has this deity been ever given a berth among the pantheon of Hindu gods at

any of the Hindu temples presided over by the Brahman priests (called Namboodiris). Thondachan has a special altar

built outside the Nair family compound, where non-Brahmin priests perform rituals. While Chaamundi, Vishnumoorthy,

Pottan, Rakteshwari and Bhagavathi became the non-Aryan non-Brahmin deities for the village folk of Kolathunaad (an

ancient province of North Kerala) along with other primitive spirits and folk-heroes, Thondachan has an even smaller

following among a select Nair clan. It is believed, that up to the present day, altars for Thondachan’s worship exists in

the Cherukunnu area in Kannur (Cannanore) district, especially in the lands surrounding old tharavad houses

(ancestral mansions) of the Nairs.

When Thomachan (the apostle St. Thomas, – achan, signifying ‘father’) came ashore, landing at Maliankara near

Moothakunnam village in Paravoor Thaluk in AD 52, (this village located 5 kilometers from Cranganoor (Kodungallur),

Muziris, on the coast of Kerala), some of his followers as well as other sailors and merchants were suffering from a

severe form of scurvy. Thomachan himself suffered from a sore throat which he chose to ignore, and which grew

steadily worse, until no voice emanated from his lips for many days. A local Jew named Matan took the weary travelers

to a local Nair tharavad (locally known as Kambiam Vallapil), in the province of Kolathunaad, a territory comprising the

present Cannanore District and Badagara Taluk of Kerala State.

It is said that at the time of Thomachan’s arrival at the Nair tharavad, the Nair karnavar (landlord or head of family) lay

injured from a grievous wound that had been inflicted upon him in a feudal duel. Upon seeing this, Thomachan sat

beside the injured man and meditated, laying his hands on the man’s head, his throat, his chest and his groin.

Immediately the karnavar felt relieved from pain, and his healing was hastened. Within a day he was up and about, his

wounds nearly healed.

58


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

In return, the Nair household offered shelter to the strangers and called upon their family physician to cure the scurvy

that the travelers suffered from, as well as Thomachan’s severely infected throat. Nellikaya (Emblic Myrobalan or

Indian Gooseberry) based potions prepared by the tharavad was used to cure the sea-worn voyagers. In an act of

gratitude, Thomachan is said to have blessed them, and gave them four silver coins saying, ‘May these coins bestow

my guru’s blessings upon you and your household, for take heed when I tell you that the money I pay you today is

anointed with the blood of my guru’.

This holy man, Thomachan, is believed to have related a curious story to the members of the tharavad,

which has been passed down the ages.

Before he set sail from a seaport in the region called ‘Sanai’ somewhere in the western seas, he had

witnessed the persecution of his guru, who was tortured and nailed to a wooden cross and left to die. He

spoke of how his guru returned from his ordeals three days later, fully cured. His guru handed him the silver

coins saying, ‘my body was sold with these, and now they have been returned to me, all thirty pieces. Put

them to good use, as I have. Though you shall choose to travel by sea, I shall meet you again in the

mountains of the land where you will finally arrive.’

The Nair tharavad later migrated further north to the Cherukunnu area of present day Kannur. They referred

to the four silver pieces as ‘rakta velli’ (blood silver) or ‘parindhu velli’ (parindhu for eagle, as one face of all

these four ancient coins bear the figure of an eagle). They also decided never to utilize the silver as it was

the custom then not to part with the gift of a guest.

Over time, and with the advent of Christianity, the significance of the four silver coins received by the

tharavad was understood, but family history is still obscure as to whether Thomachan possessed, or what he

did with the remaining twenty-six pieces of silver his guru gave him.

59


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

This Nair family never converted to the Christian faith as did many others in that region. Subsequent

migrations of Nair clans continued throughout history, but the story of the four rakta velli pieces was passed

down the generations, as did their veneration for the holi sanyasi Thomachan, (later called Thondachan, a

nickname perhaps coined from the story of his sore throat, -thonda for throat. Another story goes that the

name Thondachan was adopted in the early 16th century to avoid persecution by the Portugese).

Thus by a curious turn of events, the apostle St. Thomas was transformed into a Hindu deity for an ancient

Nair clan of Kerala.

A present day member of this family is still in possession of the four pieces of silver. I have seen the four

pieces and have identified them as the Shekels of Tyre, a common coinage of Judea of the time of Christ.

Comment by Paulo D’Souza, Panaji, Goa

If a single hair from the beard of the prophet Mohammed is relic enough to prompt a community from among

the Islamic populace to build a mosque, imagine what significance these four coins should hold to Indian

Christianity! I am also of the opinion that there was no reason for a Nair family to invent this story in such

detail. It took a German tourist to stumble upon this Nair folk-tale/family history, from perhaps among so

many she may have heard. She understood the significance of this particular story (or was it her friend

Justine?) to consider it important for publication. I honestly don’t see any ulterior motive on the part of the

otherwise orthodox Nair family in perpetuating such a story over the centuries.

Besides, I have been able to verify from my North Malabar friends that the worship of Thondacchan has

been in existence for centuries. The Nairs themselves are quite fuzzy about who exactly Thondacchan was,

and why the Hindu deity is not worshipped in the puja-rooms within their household. The attitude of the

Portuguese and subsequent turmoils of history appear to have obliterated much of the evidence that could

have established the basis of this story.

Swami Vivekananda called Kerala “a mad-house of caste-ism”. For many years after India achieved

Independence, and even until communism took deep roots in Kerala’s society, the Nairs were a very

orthodox community. They practiced untouchability and would have had reasons to keep the Thondacchan

worship outside the tharavad. The Namboothiris (Brahmins and priests) would not have appreciated the

reverence some of the Nairs showed to this alien deity. It was only the powerful Nair tradition that perhaps

kept it alive to this day. The Namboothiris had long recognized that the Nair martial power and influence

were important to maintain their traditional Hindu temples, and it appears that a few such religious quirks

among a few families and clans were not objected to by the Namboothiris. There was some reason for this

Nair clan to worship Thondacchan. And they chose to do so for so many years by conveniently placing the

shrine outside the household. It was a brilliant discovery by Paula Gruber.

These four coins (from among the famous thirty) were responsible for Jesus’ crucifixion and the birth of a

new religion. Like the Turin Shroud, the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Gospel of Judas and many such articles of

antiquity, these four coins are relics that deserve preservation. It holds the key to our beginnings, and would

redeem the Indian Christian community from the ridicule that the western opinion holds on the “St. Thomas

in India” story. I fervently appeal to the Hindu (Nair) family member who holds these coins to come forward

and donate the four coins to a Christian church where it rightly belongs. It would be well preserved and

venerated.

Source: www.fathersofthechurch.com

Malankara World

A service of St. Basil's Syriac Orthodox Church, Ohio

Copyright © 2009-2016 - ICBS Group. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer

Website designed, built, and hosted by International Cyber Business Services, Inc., Hudson, Ohio

60


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The existence of the Nair community during the period is asserted by Christopher Fuller, an

anthropologist,who has said that it is likely that the first reference to the Nair community was made by Pliny

the Elder in his Natural History, dating from 77 AD. That work describes what is probably the Malabar coast

area wherein could be found the "Nareae, who are shut in by the Capitalis range, the highest of all the

mountains in India". Fuller believes it probable that the Nareae referred to the Nairs and the Capitalis range

is the Western Ghats. They were most proabably Dravidian warriors. Most Christians of the later period

were also warriors from which the Keralaputra Kings came into existence during the Kalabhra Inter-regnum

period.

61


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

VI

NIRANAM CHURCH

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BwJuq6vVIos

http://niranampravasi.blogspot.com/

“Niranam today is a small village in central Travancore region in Kerala, India.It occupied a central

place in ancient Kerala, as an important port, being on the confluence of the Manimala and

Achenkoil Rivers. It is almost 5 km distant from Tiruvalla in Pathanamthitta District of Kerala.This

beautiful village has a rich tradition of literature, cultural exchange and religious harmony.

According to historians and geologists, Niranam was a sea port hundreds of years ago, having

trade relations with the Roman Empire and the Middle East. This fact was confirmed by the

discovery of ancient Roman coins from Niranam and nearby areas by archeologists. Niranam is

also mentioned in the writings of Pliny and Cosmos Indico Pleustes as a trade centre. The

references to 'Nelcyndis' is construed as a reference to a port near Kollam and the probability is

either Kollam or present day Niranam. Geologists suggest that sea retracted from this area due to

some major geographical changes. The great flood of 1341 AD also had helped to shift the sea

westwards as a result of the silt filling in the direct sea route from Niranam. Even today the soil of

nearby areas of Niranam is sandy and resembles beaches, though presently these places are not

in proximity of sea. The village next to Niranam is Kadapra, and this name is a derivative of the

Malayalam word ‘Kadappuram' which means ‘beach'. Centuries later, Purakkad, west of Niranam,

gained in importance as a port and this port was controlled by the Rajah of

Purakkad/Ambalappuzha.

“Probably the importance of Niranam as a port paved for the arrival of St Thomas here in the first

century AD and then led to the establishment of a church and community here, most probably a

Jewish trading community, who became Christians and later were controlled by the Syrian Church

of Antioch and Edessa….. The Christian community in Niranam is thus one of the oldest, anywhere

in the world. After the split of the Syrian Christian Church into Catholics and Orthodox factions, in

the 17th century, Niranam church came under the control of the orthodox faction. Niranam

Cathedral has been the seat of the Orthodox church since then.Now almost all Christian Churches

and denominations as well as other religions have a presence in Niranam. … St. Mary’s Orthodox

Syrian Church, Niranam, popularly known as Niranam Valiyapally, is a parish under the Niranam

diocese of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church.

62


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

“This church was founded by St. Thomas (Mar Thoma), the Apostle of Jesus Christ, in AD 54.

The present building, supposedly the fourth, was constructed in 1912 and was reinforced during the

year 2000. Among the attractions at the church are a huge Cross made of granite, relics of St.

Thomas, remnants of the old church, the golden cross etcNiranam Church has a rich history of

being the symbol of Christian faith in Kerala and a citadel of Orthodox Christianity since its

inception in AD 54 by St Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. St Thomas reached

Kerala in AD 52 and started preaching the gospel. He founded 8 churches, which are called

'Ezhara Pallikal', meaning seven and half churches. These were at Kodungallur, Kollam, Niranam,

Nilackal (Chayal), Kokkamangalam, Kottakkayal (Paravoor), Palayoor (Chattukulangara) and

Thiruvithamkode (the half church). St. Thomas who had great respect for the Holy Virgin, named all

these churches after St. Mary.

“At Niranam, St. Thomas baptised many people and ordained people with social eminence as

priests, to administer the church.The church founded by St Thomas at Niranam was adjacent to Sri

Thrikpaleswara Hindu Temple of Lord Shiva. Some adversaries of the new faith later took out the

cross, founded by the Apostle and threw it into the neighboring river. When St Thomas returned to

Niranam after two years (AD 54) he heard about this and went in search of the cross. He found it at

a place in the down stream and again founded the church at that place, which is believed to be the

present location of the church. According to the available records, the present building is the fourth,

which was built in 1912. The third building was built in 1259.

“Analysis of soil says that during the first century, Niranam and the surrounding places were costal

region. Probably, it was a place where the river joined the sea. Some historians are of the opinion

that the name Niranam derived from an old name 'NeerMannu', which meant land with water.

Presence of water bodies enabled travel through water and it is believed that the Apostle reached

Niranam in a ship (it might be a big boat).

“During the 14 th century, there was a great flood and the geography of the area changed a lot

because the sea retreated exposing a lot of land.Even today, there is a place at Niranam, near

Kolarayar - a tributary of River Pampa - named 'Thomathukadavu', which is supposed to be the

spot where St. Thomas got down from the ship. The word 'Thomathukadavu' might have emerged

from 'Thoma Vanna Kadavu', which means “the jetty where Thomas came”.

63


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Niranam Church was the southern headquarters of the Orthodox Church in Kerala for centuries.

Many of the Malankara Metropolitans (the chief bishops) ruled the church by staying here. The

church is famous for its historical importance, loyalty to the Indian Orthodox Church, architectural

beauty and some of its antiques. (http://niranampravasi.blogspot.com/)

The church was reconstructed several times since then. The stones in the church shows the

reconstruction in 1259.

64


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The church at Niranam established in the place where the Apostle St. Thomas is believed

to have established a Cross and where the mortal remains of Mor Thoma II and Mor

Thoma V, the 2nd & the 5th native Metropolitans of Malankara Jacobite Syrian Church

rests

Smriti Mandiram

(Memmorial House)

65


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

66


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The present building, supposedly the fourth, was constructed in 1912 and was renovated during the

year 2000. There are five altars at Niranam church. The main altar, the central one, is in the name

of Saint Mary. This is used for regular services of the church.

There are two altars on the north and south of the main one. The altar on the northern side is

consecrated to Saint George and the altar on the southern side is consecrated in the name of Mar

Behnam.

There are two smaller altars, to the front of the main altar. The north among these is in the name of

Saint Thomas. It is also the shrine of Mar Thoma II.

The southern among the small altars is consecrated to Saint Stephen. This is also the shrine of Mar

Thoma V

67


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The church founded by St Thomas at Niranam was adjacent to Sri Thrikpaleswara Hindu Temple of

Lord Shiva. Some adversaries of the new faith later took out the cross, founded by the Apostle and

threw it into the neighboring river. When St Thomas returned to Niranam after two years (AD 54) he

heard about this and went in search of the cross. He found it at a place in the down stream and

again founded the church at that place, which is believed to be the present location of the church.

According to the available records, the present building is the fourth, which was built in 1912. The

third building was built in 1259.

68


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The jars containing Holy Oil consecrated by generations of Holy Fathers

are kept in the underground cells.

69


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The Holy relics of St.Thomas

70


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Analysis of soil says that during the first century, Niranam and the surrounding places

were costal region. Probably, it was a place where the river joined the sea. Some

historians are of the opinion that the name Niranam derived from an old name

‘NeerMannu‘, which meant land with water. Presence of water bodies enabled travel

through water and it is believed that the Apostle reached Niranam in a ship (it might

be a big boat). During the 14th century, there was a great flood and the geography of

the area changed a lot because the sea retreated exposing a lot of land.

Even today, there is a place at Niranam, near Kolarayar – a tributary of River Pampa

– named ‘Thomathukadavu‘, which is supposed to be the spot where St. Thomas got

down from the ship. The word ‘Thomathukadavu‘ might have emerged from ‘Thoma

Vanna Kadavu‘, which means the jetty where Thomas came.

Niranam Church witnessed a number of historical events in the church history including the

establishment of a Catholicate in the Indian Orthodox Church in 1912. The first Catholicose

and second Catholicose of the church were ordained at Niranam Church (in 1912 and 1925).

Four of the Malankara Metropolitans of the church passed away while staying here and two

were buried here.

71


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Inscriptions inside the Church

72


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Outside Cross

73


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSPMo4SmVD8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8J0XvhhvuI

Palm leaves preserved in the Church

This church has the ancient temple architecture which is very beautiful. Some of the main

attractions here include a cross that is made out of granite, relics of St. Thomas, golden cross etc.

The base of the granite cross has various carvings which resemble that of the Hindu temples. The

church have two statues of St. Mary which are made of Marble and in pure Gold. There are 5 altars

in Niranam church. At present a large number of Christians come here to worship. The Christian

community in Niranam is considered to be the oldest of all in the world.

74


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

VII

KOLLAM CHURCH

In ancient time, Kollam was a famous harbour and trade center. According to local tradition,

St.Thomas established a church near port. The Church built by St. Thomas in Kollam, is believed to

have existed for upwards of a thousand years, when it was swept away by the sea.

"Up to the fall of the Chera Kingdom, the St. Thomas Christians were under the Chera Kings...In

the early centuries, Cranganore was the centre of Christians. But the situation changed with the

invasion of Arabs. The St. Thomas Christians and the Jews moved to other places. Angamaly rose

up in importance during this period". (STCEI, II, p. 31, "The Pre-Portuguese Period", by Xavier

Koodapuzha).

In 825 CE, the Malayalam calendar, or Kollavarsham, was created in Kollam at meetings held in

the city. The present Malayalam calendar is said to have begun with the re-founding of the town,

which was rebuilt after its destruction by a fire. The name Kollam is believed to have been derived

from the Sanskrit word Kollam, meaning pepper.

The port at Kollam, then known as Quilon, was founded in 825 by the Nestorian Christians Mar

Sabor and Mar Proth with sanction from Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal, the king of the independent

Venad or State of Quilon, a feudatory under the Chera kingdom.

75


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Mar Sabor and Mar Proth came from the Mar Mattai monastery of Ninveh at the invitation of the

King Kuleshakara Perumal of Quilon (now known as Kollam) as an Authority for the Doctrine of

Trinity against the background of a Shivate Revival of Advaita Vedanta propounded by Adi

Shankara. They came in to meet with the Christians (both Nazarenes, Saivites and also

Vaishnavites) of the Country in the face of the heresy of extreme monotheism and rejection of Isa

as a historical incarnation. This was a return to ancient Judaism by the Dravidians. A great

convention was held in Kollam at the behest of King Kulashekhara. This day also define the

seperation of the Hinduism as a seperate religion from Christianity. King Kulashekhara granted

the copper plate grants in 849 AD known as Tarisapalli Shasanangal to Mar Sapir Iso and

transferring to the Tarasa church ( "Tarasa" means true believers. It ia an syriac orthodox word ).

The East Syrian Saints settled in Korukeni Kollam, near to the present Kollam along with several

rights and privileges to the Syrian Christians led by Mar Sapir Iso.. The Vaishnavite Nambuthiri

community were given the Devalokakara (Thevalakara) in Quilon, lands near the city with

hereditament of low caste.

This was the start of the Malayalam era (ME), also referred to as Kollavarsham.

the independence of Malabar from the Cheraman Perumals.

It also signified

T. K. Velupillai in his Travancore State Manual writes, "Gopinatha Rao who assigns the latter part

of the 9th century as the period of the reign bases his conclusions on he assumption that Kollam

era was started in the memory of the coming of Maruvan Abo Iso. Tradition says that st. thomas

preached here (in Syria) only among Nampoothiri Communities who expected the Human

Manifestation of the second in Trinity (Vaishnava) and in after times a party of monks from Syria

landed in the neighbourhood of the modern town (Quilon) a place now engulfed in sea named

Thevalakara."

It is believed that Mar Sapor Iso also proposed that the Chera king create a new seaport near

Kollam in lieu of his request that he rebuild the almost vanished inland seaport at Kollam

(kore-ke-ni) near Backare (Thevalakara), also known as Nelcynda and Tyndis to the Romans and

Greeks and as Thondi to the Tamils, which had been without trade for several centuries because

the Cheras were overrun by the Pallavas in the 6th century, ending the spice trade from the

Malabar coast.

76


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

This allowed the Nestorinas to stay in the Chera kingdom for several decades and introduce the

Christian faith among the Nampoothiri Vaishnavites and Nair sub castes in the St. Thomas tradition,

with the Syrian liturgy as a basis for the Doctrine of the Trinity, without replacing the Sanskrit and

Vedic prayer

s.

Mar Sabor Iso and his tomb in Thevalakara.

77


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The Tharisapalli plates presented to Maruvan Sapor Iso by Ayyanadikal Thiruvadikal granted the

Christians the privilege of overseeing foreign trade in the city as well as control over its weights and

measures in a move designed to increase Quilon's trade and wealth. The two Christians were also

instrumental in founding Christian churches with Syrian liturgy along the Malabar coast, distinct

from the ancient Vedic Shivism propounded by Adi Shankara in the early 9th century among the

Nampoothiri Vaishnavites and Nair Sub Castes, as Malayalam was not accepted as a liturgical

language until the early 18th century.

Sketches of the two saints Quadisagal at the altar inside the church. Though the invalid Synod of

Diamper in 1599 proclaimed Mar Sabor and Mar Proth heretics, the Christians of Mlankara (Kerala)

respected these saints.

78


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

79


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The church was re-erected by Pope John XXII in 1330.

80


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

“St.Thomas came to Kollam (Quilon) in AD 53 and established cross and the Church and made

Kephas the head of the Church. He then proceded to the Southern country alone with Kephas

and preached in the villages around Quilon for an year and converted a thousand four hundred

people and baptised them. He gave them a cross where they could worship.” (Ramban Paattu)

81


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

VIII

Nilakkal Church

(Chayal)

It was a mountain route of trade between Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Saint Thomas accompanied by

Habban came over here and baptised 1100 people. Today there exist the Nilackal St. Thomas

Church, Ecumenical center trust and the cross established by Saint Thomas the apostle Today

there exist the Nilackal St. Thomas Church, Ecumenical center trust and the cross established by

Saint Thomas the apostle.

Nilakkal is a forest, almost 52 kilometres east to Ranni and near Sabarimala. .As early as 1902,

what was believed to be the remains of an ancient Christian church and cemetery were accidentally

discovered in the forest regions of the south of the Western Ghats, on the road to the ancient Hindu

shrine of Sabarimala in the practically inaccessible mountain recesses. Pulikkottil Joseph Mar

Dionysius, the Malankara Metropolitan in 1902, took interest in taking the matter to the Travancore

Divan. But nothing came out of the petition.

The site was discovered again, once more by an Orthodox layman serving in the Forest

Department of the Government of Travancore, in the late thirties or early forties. A bell and a large

cross had also been found in that place. Again the Orthodox Church appealed to the Dewan of

Travancore, to assign the land to the church, The response of the Dewan, Sir C. P. Ramaswamy

Iyer, no friend of the Christians, was an order to remove the bell and the cross to some unknown

place, and to begin construction of a Hindu temple on the spot. The present Hindu temple in

Nilakkal was thus built in 1946.

82


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The third ‘discovery’ of the site was in independent India, in February 1957, this time also by a

priest of the Orthodox Church, The basement of a Church (believed to be) and several graves, all

east west, were regarded as conclusive evidence that this was a Christian spot. A new Ecuminical

church with the cooperation of all Syrian Christian Churches were built there in 1957.

Nilakkal St.Thomas Ecumenical Church I957

83


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

84


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

85


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Hindus still argue Syrian Christian site is too close to popular temple.

federal minister, opens the jubilee celebrations

Oscar Fernandes, a former

86


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

87


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

IX

THIRUVITHAMKODE ARA CHURCH

Thiruvithamcode Arappally (Thiruvithamcode Royal Church), or Thomayar Kovil or St. Mary's

Orthodox Church, is a church located in Thiruvithamcode, Tamil Nadu, India. It is believed by the

Christian communities in Kerala that the historic Thiruvithamcode Arappally, also called Amalagiri

church as named by the Chera King Uthiyan Cheralathan, was built by St. Thomas, known as the

Apostle of India, in 63 AD.

It claims to be the world's oldest church that still has daily prayers and India's oldest church that

haven't been reconstructed till now. The church has three main parts built in the 17th century and a

20th-century entrance hall. Its walls are built of locally quarried stone, chiseled with a multi-tipped

chisel, a technique known in Kerala and possibly introduced there by foreign contact in the 16th

century. Thiruvithamcode is a small panchayat town located in the Kanyakumari district of the

Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is about 20 km from Nagercoil, and 2 km from Thuckalay.

The church today is maintained by the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church. Catholicos of the East

and Malankara Metropolitan, Baselios Marthoma Didymos I proclaimed the church as an

international St. Thomas pilgrim center on 16 December 2007.

88


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

89


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

90


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

91


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

92


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Mylapore was historically known as Vedapur

X

MYLAPORE CHURCH

- the city of the Veda. As the available historical and

archaeological evidence show, it could well be the oldest part of Chennai, with written records of

early settlements going back to the first century BC. It was known for its ancient port with a

flourishing trade with the Roman Empire, receiving gold in exchange for its products like pepper

and fine cloth.

St. Thomas the Apostle died at Mylapore in 72 AD.

Ptolemy (AD 100 - 170) had recorded in the

2nd century AD that the port of Mylapore was known to the Greeks and the Romans. The Saivite

Saints of the 7th Century, Saint Sambandar and Saint Appar, have sung about the Shrine in their

hymns. Mention has been made of the early settlement of Santhome (currently known) by Arab

travelers and merchants of the 9th and 10th centuries AD. Marco Polo visited the place in the late

13th century and left a detailed description of the land, the people along with their customs and

religion.

It was considerable maritime time and the ancient German and Greek maps refers to the town as

Maliarpha. The later Scottish researchers like James Playfair(1755 – 1794) referred to it as

"Meliapour" Mylapore was occupied by the Portuguese in 1523, who established the viceroyalty of

"São Tomé de Meliapor" or "Saint Thomas of Mylapore." Portuguese rule lasted until 1749, except

for a brief interregnum between 1662 and 1687, when the town was occupied by the French.

After 1749, the British East India Company took possession of the settlement and Mylapore was

incorporated into the administration of the Presidency of Madras.

93


Kapaleeswarar Temple

SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Kapaleeswarar Temple is one of the most famous temples of Chennai. During the period of

Kalabhra inter-regnum in Tamil Nadu Originally built in the 7th century by the ruling Pallavas, the

temple was destroyed by the Portuguese in the 16th century to construct the San Thome Basilica,

and a new temple was constructed in the 16th century by the Tuluva dynasty (1491–1570 CE)

using remains of the old temple. The main deity of the temple is Lord Shiva. The temple exhibits

exquisite Dravidian architecture. The huge temple is surrounded by traditional crowded street

markets of Chennai selling fruits, flowers, vegetables and traditional brass ware.

There is something strange about the History of South India, especially of Kerala. Whereas we

have unbroken history of the reigns of Kings elsewhere in India, the history of South India is blank

from the coming of St. Thomas until around fifth century for most South Indian states (Chola and

Pandya States) and until around eighth century in Kerala.

94


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The people who controlled South India during this period is referred to as Kalabhras.

But nothing

of their origin, character, religion or social structure is known. One even wonders whether these

were intentionally destroyed. Blotting out names and history was an age-old method practiced in

ancient cultures. Historians affirm that this is exactly what happened in the case of South India

as a whole until the fifth century. In Kerala this period extended until the eighth century.

Kalabhras were the South Indian dynasty who between the third and the 6th century C.E. ruled

over entire Tamil country, displacing the ancient Chola, Pandya and Chera dynasties. Information

about their origin and details about their reign is scarce. They did not leave any artifacts or

monuments. The only source of information on them is the scattered mentions in Buddhist and Jain

literature. They were displaced around the 7th century by the revival of Pallava and Pandya power.

These periods were the period when Thomas Christianity was powerful in all South India. They

were never even mentioned in the history - probably because they were intentionally blotted out by

the Gnostic taking over groups of Hinduism which found its evident clear start with the seperation of

Vaishnavites from Saivites and then later under Sankara the seperation of Hinduism as we know

today from Christianity was inaugurated soon after the council of Kollam. Pallavas were of

Syrian Gnostic origin.

When the curtain raises under Pallavas we have a Kapaleeswara Temple where the shrine of

Thomas was. Alongside of it there is also the AdiKesava Perumal Temple constructed in honor of

Keshava or Lord Vishnu.

San Thome Basilica

Thomas is traditionally believed to have sailed to Muziris in Kerala India in AD 52 and was martyred

in 72 CE by spear at Mylapore and his body was interned here.After his death, his body was buried

in the Church built by him. A pot containing earth, probably moistured by his blood and the lance

with which he was pierced were both buried in his tomb. In the 10th century AD Christians from

Persia, founded this Christian village of Santhome, and then they built a Church and tomb over the

burial site of St.Thomas.

His relics were moved to Edessa (now Urfa in south-east Turkey)in the third century (some time

between 222 - 235 AD) by the King Mazdai (Vasudeva?). Due to war between countries these

bones were moved from Edessa to Chios in 1144 and then from there to Ortona in 1258.

95


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The Portuguese who came to India in 1523 AD found a small shrine called "Ben Thuma", that is, the

house of Thomas, in the custody of a Muslim. The Portuguese then built a Church and erected the

Diocese of Santhome-de-mellapore. Dom Sebasteao-de-Pedro of the Augustinian Order was the first

bishop of the Diocese of Mylapore.

96


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

San Thome Basilica

19/38, Santhome High Road

600004 Mylapore, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

*Tradition holds that St Thomas the Apostle preached in this region and was martyred on St

Thomas Mount.

*This church is built over the tomb of St Thomas. The tomb is empty; however, a few small relics

are within the church.

97


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

This is only a memorial tomb

98


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The original tomb was opened four times in its history.





It was opened for the first time to cure an ailment of the son of the Raja Mahadevan. St.Gregory

of Tours recorded this in his book 'De Miraculis Sti Thomae'.

It was opened for the second time between 1222 and 1235 when most of the Saint's relics were

removed to Ortona in 1258 for a troubled journey on the East Coast of India. His relics are

present in Ortona even today.

It was opened for the third time in 1523 by the Portuguese who arrived at Mylapore to rebuild

the ruined Church over the tomb of the Apostle, St.Thomas.

Dom Jose Pinharno, the bishop of Mylapore, opened it for the fourth time in 1729 to give

pilgrims the earth from the sepulcher. It was at this time a bright light appeared from the tomb.

Today, the Shrine preserves a small bone of the Saint and the head of the lance with which the Saint

was pierced. In 1954, his Eminence Cardinal Eugene Tasserant brought a piece of bone from the

hand with which the Saint touched the side of Jesus after his resurrection, to the Shrine.

San Thome Cathedral: A piece of the Apostle’s arm bone kept in a crucifix reliquary. It was a gift to

San Thome Cathedral from San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica, Ortona, Italy, and was brought to

India in 1953 by Cardinal Tisserant.

99


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

San Thome Cathedral: The spear head

Tip of the lance that took the life of St. Thomas which was recovered from the grave during the

portuguese excavation and preserved in the Milapore

St. Thomas Museum

100


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

San Tomasso Cathedral Basilica in Ortona contains the actual tomb of Thomas the Apostle.

Basilica di San Tommaso Apostolo (Basilica of St Thomas the Apostle),Corso Giacomo Matteotti

35, 66026 Ortona, Italy *The relics of St Thomas the Apostle rest within a golden casket placed

within a white marble altar located in the crypt of this church. The actual tomb of St. Thomas in

Ortona, Italy. The complete skeleton of the apostle has rested in this cathedral since 1258.

101


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

San Tomasso Basilica: The complete skeleton of Apostle Thomas has lain in this cathedral since

1258.

San Thome Basilica was built over his original tomb in the 16th century by Portuguese explorers,

after demolishing the original Kapaleeshwarar Temple which stood on the grounds, and rebuilt with

the status of a cathedral by the British in 1893 which still stands. San Thome Basilica is the

principal church of the Madras-Mylapore Roman Catholic Archdiocese. In 1956, Pope Pius XII

raised the church to the status of a Minor Basilica, and on 11 February 2006, it was declared a

national shrine by the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India. It is an important pilgrimage center for

the Syrian Christians of Kerala. The church also has an attached museum.

102


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

The skeleton of St. Thomas

103


SEVEN AND A HALF CHURCHES OF ST.THOMAS : PROF, M.M.NINAN

Piece of the Finger bone of St. Thomas in a Roman church.

Piece of the Skull of St. Thomas the Apostle kept in the Monastery of St. John the Theologian,

Patmos, Greece.

104

Hooray! Your file is uploaded and ready to be published.

Saved successfully!

Ooh no, something went wrong!